As the neighborhood is going through its own cultural renaissance, we visited a new staple in the vibrant uptown community that's showing people that style is pretty much all in your head.
FB: Marc, we've gotten to know each other pretty well since you opened up shop but for those who don't know, introduce yourself.
MW: My name is Marc Williamson. I'm a hatter by trade and the proprietor of Flamekeepers Hat Club in Harlem. I've been in the industry for over twenty years, educating people on the craft and guiding them to what fits their style and frame.
FB: Since opening FKHC, what was the biggest hurdle you faced and how did you overcome it?
MW: I'll start with one word: persistence. As a startup, you have to convince people to believe in your vision and your ability to execute it well. When I decided to open up my own shop, I figured that my resume (and good credit) would speak for itself. But I got turned down by two other spaces before I was able to secure this lease. It taught me a valuable lesson: you can't rest on your laurels. It's not necessarily about what you've done (even though it does hold weight) but it's really about what you're doing in the present. That's why you have to constantly be building, and networking and learning. If you're not improving, you're regressing. And that's bad for business and a disservice to my clientele.
FB: You've been in New York for a long time and you don't show any signs of leaving. What's your favorite thing to do in the city?
MW: I people watch to be inspired, the way they dress, who they interact with, where they choose to go. It's fascinating to me. New York is a show that's always on. The diversity, the culture, it's just rich. I love time with my wife and my girls, my wine and cheese and get-togethers, but I've always felt that there's nothing like seeing people in their element.
FB: You're known for your unique sense of style. We want to know: what's your grooming regimen?
MW: My grooming regimen is actually pretty simple. I'm a no fuss kind of guy. I make sure to keep my skin moisturized, especially in the winter, and I leave my beard as is, nothing much to it.
FB: For someone starting out in your industry or just starting up in general for that matter, what's one piece of advice that you would give them ahead of the journey?
MW: I'd say a few things. Surround yourself with the best in their industry. All those different perspectives are bound to yield good ideas. Strive to be just as valuable to them as they are to you. And support people, not just in word but in deed. If they're having an event, show up, bring a gift, celebrate their accomplishments. Do the things that you would want someone to do for you.
If you're ever in Harlem, stop by Flamekeepers Hat Club at:
273 W 121st Street
New York, NY 10027